Saturday, November 26, 2005

The marketing of IVF

The St. Louis Business Journal's online publication called St. Louis Bizwomen had a recent article titled " Infertility specialists boost marketing" in which the trend of fertility clinics applying new business approaches was discussed. While the focus of the article was the marketing of fertility treatment, the story had a number of interesting statistics.

Some of the statistics of interest included the following:
  • More than 6 million women in the U.S., or 10% of reproductive-age women, have fertility issues.
  • ART (assisted reproduction technology) procedures grew 43 percent in the U.S. from 1997 to 2002.
  • Average cost per ART cycle is $10,000 plus thousands of dollars more for diagnostic exams, genetic screenings and other expenses.
  • More than 100,000 ART procedures are performed each year in the U.S.
  • Infertility treatment is a $1 billion per year industry in he U.S.
  • Kato Ladies' Clinic in Tokyo, Japan is the world's largest IVF center and administers 14,000 cycles per year.
  • 1 percent of the babies born in the U.S. each year are the result of IVF while in Europe the number is 5 percent, the difference being attributed to readily available insurance coverage in much of Europe.
The article also says that only about 20 percent of the demand for ART is met in the U.S. because so many couples who want it cannot afford it. Some centers are exploring innovative methods to make treatment more affordable such as long term financing and success guarantees.

The issue of insurance coverage for ART has clinics divided, some saying it will give access to more people while others say it will encourage lower quality treatment. The insurance providers are definitely against mandatory coverage requirements, and cite concerns such as the costs associated with complications such as delivery of triplets which can cost $250,000 U.S.


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